Members will hear testimony on plans for future space exploration by NASA. The hearing will focus on President Bush’s recent proposal to return astronauts to the Moon and expand human space exploration to Mars. Senator McCain will preside. Tentative witness list will be released at a later time.
Witness Panel 1
The Honorable Sean O'Keefe
Statement of Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee, thank you for this opportunity to appear today to discuss the President’s vision for U.S. Space Exploration and NASA’s plans for implementing this vision. On January 14th, the President visited NASA Headquarters and announced his vision for U.S. Space Exploration. In his address, the President presented a vision that is bold and forward-thinking yet practical and responsible – one that explores answers to longstanding questions of importance to science and society, and will develop revolutionary technologies and capabilities for the future, while maintaining good stewardship of taxpayer dollars. The vision forms the basis of the new U.S. space exploration policy, “A Renewed Spirit of Discovery,” a copy of which is appended to this testimony. This policy is the product of months of extensive and careful deliberations. The importance of these deliberations increased with the findings of the Columbia Accident Investigation Board, which emphasized the importance of setting clear, long-term goals for the Nation’s human space flight program. Inputs from Members of this Committee and other Members of Congress informed the Administration’s deliberations. Many others contributed their ideas for the future of the space program. These deliberations also formed the basis for formulating the President’s FY 2005 Budget request for NASA, which will be released on February 2nd. A commission will advise on specific issues for implementation of the policy’s goals within four months of its first meeting. Today, I will walk you through the goals set forth in the policy, the major steps to implementing the new policy, the implications of this directive for NASA’s programs and resources, and what the Nation’s future in exploration and discovery will look like in the coming years. Vision Goals The fundamental goal of the new U.S. space exploration policy is to advance U.S. scientific, security, and economic interests through a robust space exploration program. In support of this goal, NASA will: · Implement a sustained and affordable human and robotic program to explore the solar system and beyond; · Extend human presence across the solar system, starting with a human return to the Moon by the year 2020, in preparation for human exploration of Mars and other destinations; · Develop the innovative technologies, knowledge, and infrastructures both to explore and to support decisions about the destinations for human exploration; and · Promote international and commercial participation in exploration to further U.S. scientific, security, and economic interests. Implementation To achieve these goals, NASA will plan and implement an integrated, long-term robotic and human exploration program structured with measurable milestones and executed on the basis of available resources, accumulated experience, and technology readiness. The policy envisions the following major implementation elements: Space Shuttle – NASA will return the Space Shuttle to flight as soon as practical, according to the recommendations of the Columbia Accident Investigation Board. The focus of the Space Shuttle will be finishing assembly of the International Space Station (ISS). With its job done, the Space Shuttle will be retired when assembly of the ISS is complete, planned for the end of the decade. International Space Station – NASA plans to complete assembly of the ISS, including those U.S. components that support U.S. space exploration goals and those planned by foreign partners, by the end of the decade. U.S. research activities aboard the ISS will be focused to support the new exploration goals, with the emphasis on understanding how the space environment affects astronaut health and capabilities and developing countermeasures. New Space Transportation Capabilities – NASA will initiate Project Constellation to develop a new Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV) to provide crew transport for exploration missions beyond low Earth orbit. NASA plans to develop the CEV in a step-by-step approach, with an initial unpiloted test flight as early as 2008, followed by tests of progressively more capable designs that provide an operational human-rated capability no later than 2014. As we begin the process of retiring the Space Shuttle from service, NASA will separate to the maximum practical extent crew and cargo transportation for both ISS and exploration missions. NASA will acquire ISS crew transport as required and cargo transportation as soon as practical and affordable. NASA envisions that commercial and/or foreign capabilities will provide these services. The CEV may supplement these ISS capabilities, but its design will be driven by exploration requirements. Lunar Exploration – NASA will undertake lunar exploration and demonstration activities to enable sustained human and robotic exploration of Mars and other destinations in the solar system. Starting no later than 2008, NASA plans to launch the first in a series of robotic missions to the Moon to prepare for and support human exploration activities. The policy envisions the first human expedition to the lunar surface as early as 2015 but no later than 2020. These robotic and human missions will further science and demonstrate new approaches, technologies, and systems, including the use of space resources, to support sustained human exploration to Mars and other destinations. Exploration of Mars – NASA will enhance the ongoing search for water and evidence of life on Mars by pursuing technologies this decade for advanced science missions to Mars in the next decade. Also starting next decade, NASA will launch the first in a dedicated series of robotic missions to Mars to demonstrate capabilities that will greatly enhance robotic capabilities and enable future human exploration of Mars. NASA will conduct human expeditions to Mars and other destinations beyond Earth orbit on the basis of available resources, accumulated experience, and technology readiness. And Destinations Beyond – Over the next two decades, NASA will conduct an increasingly capable campaign of robotic exploration across the solar system. The stunning images we have received from Mars are just the beginning. NASA will launch advanced space telescope searches for Earth-like planets and habitable environments around other stars. NASA will explore Jupiter’s moons, the asteroids, and other solar system bodies to search for evidence of life, understand the history of the solar system, and search for resources. To advise on issues for achieving these goals, the President will form a commission of private and public sector experts. Former Undersecretary of Defense and Secretary of the Air Force, Pete Aldridge, will be the Chair of the Commission. This commission will issue its report within four months of its first meeting. NASA Program Changes To successfully execute the exploration vision, NASA will focus its organization, create new offices, align ongoing programs, experiment with new ways of doing business, and tap the great innovative and creative talents of our Nation. Immediately following the President’s speech, I announced the creation of the Exploration Systems Enterprise, which will have responsibility for developing the Crew Exploration Vehicle and other exploration systems and technologies. Retired U.S. Navy Rear Admiral Craig Steidle, former manager of the Defense Department’s Joint Strike Fighter Program, is heading this new organization. Relevant programs of the Aerospace Technology, Space Science, and Space Flight enterprises are being transferred to the Exploration Systems Enterprise. The Aerospace Technology Enterprise has been renamed the Aeronautics Enterprise to reflect its new focus. As human explorers prepare to join their robotic counterparts, coordination and integration will increase. The Exploration Systems Enterprise will work closely with the Space Science Enterprise to use the Moon to demonstrate new approaches, technologies, and systems to support sustained human exploration. NASA’s Space Science Enterprise will have responsibility for implementing robotic testbeds on the Moon and Mars and will also demonstrate other key exploration technologies – such as advanced power, propulsion, and communications – in missions to Mars and Jupiter’s moons. NASA’s Space Science Enterprise will eventually integrate human capabilities into the exploration of Mars and other destinations. Many other elements of the NASA organization will be focused to support this new direction. NASA’s Biological and Physical Research Enterprise will put much greater emphasis on bioastronautics research to enable human exploration of other worlds. NASA’s Office of the Space Architect will be responsible for integrating the exploration activities of NASA’s different Enterprises and for maintaining exploration roadmaps and coordinating high-level requirements. As we move outward into the solar system, NASA will look for innovative ideas from the private sector and academia to support activities in Earth orbit and future exploration activities. Many of the technical challenges that NASA will face in the coming years will require innovative solutions. In addition to tapping creative thinking within the NASA organization, NASA will leverage the ideas and expertise resident in the Nation’s universities and industry. In his speech, the President directed NASA to invite other nations to share in the challenges and opportunities of this new era of exploration and discovery. Building on NASA’s long history and extensive and close ties with the space and research agencies of other nations, we will actively seek international partners in executing future exploration activities. NASA will also invigorate its workforce, focus its facilities, and revitalize its field centers. As exploration activities get underway, NASA anticipates planning, reviews, and changes to align and improve its infrastructure. In order to achieve the exploration vision, we will be making decisions on how to best implement new programs. While some of these necessary actions will not be easy, they are essential to the overall effort before us. I urge you to consider the full context of what we will be proposing rather than any isolated, specific action. Such a perspective will allow us to move forward in implementing the vision. Budget Resources The exploration vision for solar system exploration is affordable in both the short-term and the long-term. The President’s FY 2005 Budget request for NASA, to be released on February 2nd, will be fiscally responsible and consistent with the Administration’s goal of cutting the budget deficit in half within the next five years. NASA’s FY 2005 Budget will increase by $1 billion over five years when compared with the President’s 2004 plan, an increase of around five percent per year over the next three years and approximately one percent for the following two years. Although the budget increases are modest, NASA will be able to carry out a robust exploration program. In addition to the new funding, the vision will be supported by $11 billion in reprogrammed funds over the next five years, the majority of which will come from human space flight related programs. In the next decade, retiring the Space Shuttle will free up over $4 billion per year, enabling full-scale development and operation of human missions to the Moon. The budget strategy supporting the vision will not require large balloon payments by future Congresses and Administrations. Unlike prior major civil space initiatives, the approach is intentionally flexible, with investments in sustainable exploration approaches to maintain affordability. The Nation’s Future in Exploration and Discovery As we embark on this new chapter of exploration, we are mindful of the risk attendant on that quest. And as we gather today, on this the 18th anniversary of the Challenger tragedy, it serves as a stark reminder of the price we pay for human exploration. It has been the case through human history. This painful reminder serves as a clarion call to redouble our efforts to undertake this new chapter in exploration in the safest manner humanly possible. As a testament to the courage of the Challenger crew, and their contribution to human exploration, we will designate the landing site of the Opportunity rover on Mars as the Challenger Memorial Station. As the President stated in his speech, we are embarking on a journey, not a race. We begin this journey knowing that many years of hard work and sustained effort will be required, yet we can look forward to achieving concrete results in the near term. The vision makes the needed decisions to secure long-term US space leadership. It provides an exciting set of major milestones with human and robotic missions. It pursues compelling science and cutting edge technologies. It invites new ideas and innovations for accomplishing the vision. And it will provide the opportunity for new generations of Americans to explore, innovate, discover and enrich our Nation in ways unimaginable today. The President’s challenging vision provides unique opportunities for engaging students across the country, “as only NASA can,” to enter careers in science, engineering, technology and math. I sincerely appreciate the forum that the Committee provided today, and I look forward to responding to your questions.
Witness Panel 2
The Honorable Neal Lane, Ph. D.
Mr Chairman and members of the Committee: Thank you for this opportunity to testify on the future of space exploration, especially the policy implications of President Bush’s proposal, outlined in his speech to the nation on January 14, 2004, to return astronauts to the moon and expand human space exploration to Mars. My direct involvement with matters of space policy was the time I served in the Clinton Administration, in the White House, as Assistant to the President for Science and Technology (the President’s Science Advisor) and Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (from 1998 – 2001). Prior to that I was Director of the National Science Foundation (from 1993 - 1998), an agency that focuses both on research and on education. I am now at Rice University, where my position is University Professor, with appointments in the Department of Physics and Astronomy and as Senior Fellow of the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy, which includes space policy and other science and technology policy areas within the scope of its activities. Mr. George Abbey, former Director of the Johnson Space Center, is also a Senior Fellow of the Institute. The Rice Baker Institute has hosted an international summit on space policy and several other space events including workshops on space commerce. I also serve on the American Academy of Arts and Sciences Committee on International Security Studies, which is examining international rules on the use of space and implication of possible changes in the U.S. policy toward military uses of space. The vision of President John F. Kennedy Rice University is where President John F. Kennedy gave his address on Sept. 12, 1962, in which he spoke these now famous words: “We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win….” The political situation in the world, forty years ago, was very different than it is today. The U.S. and USSR were in a face-off and on the brink of a nuclear holocaust. Sputnik, launched by the USSR in 1957, stunned the free world. On May 25, 1961, President Kennedy announced to a joint session of Congress that we would take Americans to the moon and safely return them to Earth by the end of the decade. Indeed, that mission was accomplished in just over eight years, at a cost of about $25 billion (1960 dollars), which is approximately $125 billion of today’s dollars. This was an extraordinary accomplishment for NASA and the nation. It launched the U.S. into the leadership position it enjoys today. Boys and girls visiting Challenger centers at the Houston Museum of Natural Science and other centers around the world, are still excited by the stories of the moon landing and the vision of humans going back to the moon and on to Mars. Today, the USSR no longer exists. Russia is our partner in space exploration, and the hostile threats to our nation no longer come from a single powerful nation. It is ironic that on November 14, 2001, at Rice University, nearly four decades after President Kennedy’s speech, Russian President Putin gave a speech in which he said: “We have (for) a long time been cooperating in (the) space exploration field. And the creation, the establishment of the International Space Station is 85% percent (a) bilateral Russian-American project.” The U.S. Human Space Flight Program The U.S. human space flight program – from John Glenn’s heroic Mercury flight in February of 1962 Mercury to the Gemini missions and Apollo moon landings to the development of the Space Shuttle program and construction, with Russia and other international partners, of the International Space Station – has been one of America’s greatest stories of adventure and discovery. Once again this country showed the world that the American pioneering spirit and passion for exploration can cause people and nations to do extraordinary things. The benefits are not only in gaining a better understanding of how humans can live in space, but the engineering and technological advances that provide totally unanticipated benefits for people, our economy, and the Earth’s environment. Human exploration of space is not without risk to the courageous men and women who make the journey. Along with the triumphs of our human space program we have suffered great tragedies – Apollo 1, Challenger, and more recently, Columbia, where astronauts gave their lives for the nation. We must do everything possible to make sure our astronauts and their partners from other nations are as safe as they can possibly be in space and that the irreducible risks are made clear to them and to the public. Scientific Accomplishments As exciting as human space flight may be, the U.S. civilian space program is very much about scientific exploration and discovery, using robotic means. NASA has often carried out unmanned space science missions in cooperation with international partners; but it has played the leading role in many of the most important ones. The robotic studies of our solar system have produced a revolution in scientific understanding of our sun, planets, asteroids, comets and of the Earth’s immediate environment. Spectacular discoveries, including photographic images of the moon (Ranger, Surveyor, Lunar Orbiter, Clementine); Mars (Mariner, Viking, Mars Observer, Mars Global Surveyor, Mars Pathfinder, Mars Exploration Rovers Spirit and Opportunity); Venus (Mariner, Pioneer, Magellan); Mercury (Mariner); outer planets (Pioneer, Voyager, Galileo, Cassini); asteroids (Clementine, NEAR), comets (Stardust). Other missions are giving us new knowledge about the Sun (SOHO, Ulysses, HESSI, TRACE), its radiation and solar wind (Genesis, GEOTAIL, Polar) and the “space weather” problems it can cause on Earth and the plasma environment nearby (Cluster, IMAGE, WIND); and the Earth’s upper atmosphere (TIMED). Voyager 1 and 2 (now 26 years old) are probing the outer reaches of the solar system. Joining the successes of these past and ongoing studies of the solar system is an extraordinary record of research and discovery in astronomy and astrophysics. An array of NASA space-based astronomical telescopes (Hubble, Compton, Chandra, ACE, GALEX, HETE-2, IMAGE, RXTE, SAMPEX, Spitzer, SWAS, WMAP, XMM Newton), several built and operated in cooperation with the European Space Agency and nations around the world, complement ground based telescopes (e.g. the Keck telescope and Gemini telescopes and others supported by the National Science Foundation). NASA, with its partners, has over 20 telescopes under development and an even larger number under study. In addition to building and operating these space-based observatories, NASA is a major supporter, along with the National Science Foundation, of basic research in astronomy and astrophysics at major universities all around the country. Closer to home is NASA’s Earth Science Enterprise, which launched its flagship Terra in December of 1999, and operates (or has scheduled launch dates for) over thirty Earth observation satellites, many in cooperation with other agencies and countries, to provide images and data on many aspects of the Earth’s atmosphere, ocean and land. These include observations of: atmospheric temperature, moisture content, clouds, precipitation (Aqua), aerosol cloud properties (CALIPSO), absorption and re-emission of solar radiation by the Earth (ERBS), imaging and sounding data to help weather forecasting (GOES-L and M), soil moisture and freeze line (HYDROS), atmospheric carbon dioxide (OCO), global ocean currents (TOPEX/Poseidon), and other missions that provide information useful in understanding climate change and improving weather prediction. In addition to the high-profile science research activities in Astronomy and Planetary and Earth Science, NASA supports important research in the biological and physical sciences, including research related to the National Nanotechnology Initiative. One area of the life sciences that is particularly important for human space flight and that requires humans to live in space is studying the long term effects of zero gravity on the human body. We will not be able to make journeys to Mars, or even to stay for awhile on the moon, until we understand how humans respond and can insure their continued health. NASA has formed an excellent partnership to implement that research with the National Space Biomedical Research Institute (NSBRI) that brings together a number of the nation’s finest life science research institutions, under the leadership of the Baylor College of Medicine, to further our understanding of the effects of space travel on the human body. Science is at the heart of NASA and the U.S. effort in space exploration and discovery. Any considerations of a change in national space policy should insure the continued health of NASA’s science programs. But, before we talk about changes in space policy, it is important to reflect on where we have been. U.S. National Space Policy President Clinton established a National Space Policy early in his Administration that emphasized the construction of the International Space Station, the first component of which (Zarya) was placed into orbit in November of 1998, followed by the first U.S. component (Unity), delivered by the Shuttle, in December of that year. The Clinton Administration also worked to provide funding for NASA to make an “end of the decade” decision on a replacement for the Space Shuttle, to continue robotic explorations of Mars, and to support a robust program of Astronomy, Space, and Earth Sciences. With regard to the Space Station, President Clinton made the decision that Russia would become a key partner, so that we could take advantage of their enormous experience in space, including the MIR space station, and Russia’s technical skills. It is a partnership that has had its ‘ups’ and ‘downs’, largely because of the economic situation in Russia, but today it is clear that we would not have the Space Station had it not been for this vital partnership. President Bush’s Plan to Return to the Moon and Beyond President Bush, in his speech of January 14, described a bold plan that will take humans back to the moon by 2020, with the expectation that humans would then go on to Mars, sometime in the distant future. In particular, the President described three goals: 1) “complete the International Space Station by 2010”; 2) “develop and test a new spacecraft by 2008 and to conduct the first manned mission no later than 2014”; 3) “return to the moon by 2020, as the launching point for missions beyond.” The President said that the first part of this program would be funded by adding $1 billion to the NASA budget, spread out over five years, and reallocating $11 billion from within the NASA budget during the same timeframe. These amounts are within the annual 5% increase the President plans to make to the NASA base budget (approximately $15 billion), starting in FY 2005. The President has named a new Commission, chaired by former Secretary of the Air Force Pete Aldrich, to advise him on implementation of the new vision. President Bush has laid out a bold vision for the human space program and a rough timeframe for making progress. The American people need a vision in order to share in the excitement and support the costs of the national space effort. NASA also needs a destination, compass heading, and timeframe for human exploration of space so that it can plan and manage effectively as well as log its progress. Such a vision, however, has to be achievable to be credible, so it is important to be aware of all that is involved in accomplishing the President’s goals, if those are the right goals for the country. There are two overarching questions one might ask: Are these the right goals? Is the plan – including the budget – likely to accomplish these goals? I will briefly comment on the three goals, add a fourth “science” goal that, in my opinion, is at least as important as the others, and suggest a number of questions that I hope the Commission, Administration, and Congress will consider carefully. International Space Station The goal to complete the International Space Station is not only appropriate but, in my view, absolutely essential. Our commitments to international partners must be met if we are to maintain any credibility in space cooperation. We are not always viewed as a reliable partner in such endeavors and often our political will is questionable. While there was criticism by some members of Congress of President Clinton’s decision to bring in the Russians as a key partner in building the Station, clearly it was very important to do so. Not only did Russia provide outstanding technical expertise and hardware and unprecedented experience with humans in a space environment (on space station MIR), Russia was also able to respond quickly to our need to bring back those stranded on the Station by the grounding of the Shuttle fleet, following the tragic Columbia accident, and to continue a rotation of crews so the Station can remain in operation. A second reason to complete the Space Station is to continue to gain experience with humans in space and to develop new technologies and systems that, along with the planned Shuttle upgrades, will be needed in developing a new Crew Exploration Vehicle and moving beyond low earth orbit. But, the Space Station is not finished and still presents many challenges. Our intentions, our commitment and our priorities must be clear. Is our commitment to complete the Space Station simply tending to unfinished business, or do we still consider the Space Station and the scientific experiments we will do there among our highest priorities in human space exploration? What is our commitment beyond the construction of the Station – are we simply leaving it to our international partners to operate, while we move on to more exciting things? New Spacecraft – The Crew Exploration Vehicle The Space Shuttle has performed far better than its early critics predicted. That is because an enormous amount of human attention is given to keeping the Shuttles flying and the talent and skills of our astronauts. While I was in the White House, I had the privilege of visiting Johnson Space Center and observing a Shuttle Commander and Pilot going through mind-boggling malfunction scenarios on the Shuttle simulator. I came away very conscious of how good these men and women are, but also with a better appreciation of the complexity of the Shuttle, which still relies on old technology, and the very real risks to flying it. The Shuttle technical upgrades, begun in the previous Administration, are very important and should be carefully considered by NASA and the Commission as various options are examined. These upgrades have been planned not only to improve the safety and reliability of the Shuttle but also to develop new technologies and systems for future spacecraft and missions beyond Earth’s orbit. Future upgrades could include replacing solid-fuel by liquid-fuel boosters, which (flown without the Shuttle) could be important for lunar or Mars missions. The design of the Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV) appears to be a work in progress, the intended outcome of the “spiral approach” described by the NASA Administrator. Whatever may be the detailed design, we will need a heavy-lift capability for humans and cargo. Today, the Shuttle is our heavy-lift vehicle and can carry 60,000 lbs, currently the largest payload of any of the world’s vehicles. It also has the capability to return heavy cargo to earth, a unique capability that will be greatly needed by the year 2010. Many favor the idea of a human spacecraft, e.g. the CEV, being launched on an expendable launch vehicle (ELV). We have no such human-rated rocket today. The CEV presents many challenges. How will NASA insure that safety of the astronauts remains the top priority for the human space flight program during a time of substantial realignment of programs, reallocation of funds, and reorganization of personnel, and properly implement the recommendations of the Columbia Accident Investigation Board, chaired by Admiral Gehman? Does NASA plan to carry out the planned Shuttle upgrades and, if not all of them, which ones and on what schedule? What is NASA’s future plan for providing heavy-lift (down-mass as well as up-mass) capability? What are the arguments in favor of the plan to abandon the Shuttle four or more years before a new human spaceflight capability is in place and what are the risks? What are the arguments for and against, and tradeoffs in capability and cost, of choosing an entirely new spacecraft architecture as opposed to an architecture that makes use of a modernized Shuttle? Return to the Moon – and Beyond Should we go back to the moon? My answer is yes! The question is when and how? Returning to the moon must be of sufficiently high priority for the nation to justify the expenditure of the large amounts of money required, rather than using the funds to meet other vital national needs in many areas that impact the quality of life of people living on Earth – education, economy, energy, health, environment, security. Moreover, the most important “how” question is the extent to which this will be an international effort involving not only our traditional partners in space (countries of Europe, Japan, Canada and other nations that are contributing to the International Space Station), but also new space partners like China, India and Brazil. The window of opportunity to use cooperation in space to avoid conflicts in the future may not be open long; and this is an opportunity that must not be missed. The NASA Administrator, in his comments to the press, emphasized that this is “very much going to be a U.S. – led endeavor… to achieve this set of American, U.S. exploration objectives.” But, international cooperation, including Russia being placed on the critical path, has been vital to the success of the U.S. space effort. There are many obstacles to international cooperation, including: export controls (which have seriously damaged our commercial satellite industry); the effects of the Iran Nonproliferation Act of 2000 on U.S.-Russia cooperation; and denied access to foreign students, scientists, and engineers, whom we need today in order to advance our programs in space and other technical areas. This need will only grow in the future. Without question, the U.S. must protect its citizens from attack by terrorists or other hostile forces. But, this must be done in such a way that does not damage the nation’s technical capability. There is also reason for other nations to question U.S. policy on the future use of space, given statements made by high-level U.S. government leaders and in military strategy documents about the need to prepare for increased military activities in space. The American Academy of Arts and Sciences Committee on International Security Studies is carrying out a study of the technological, commercial, and political implications of U.S. policy in space, and of rules and principles for protecting a long-term balance of commercial, military, and scientific activities in space. I encourage the Administration and Congress to invite information on this important study as it may impact your decisions on future space policy. How will the Administration insure that other nations – Russia, our European and Asian partners, perhaps China and India – are seriously engaged in the planning and realization of the President’s vision, indeed that they are able to share that vision? How will the U.S. assure the rest of the world that we continue to hold the view that space should be used for peaceful purposes? Scientific Research and Education Mr. Chairman, I would add a fourth goal that I consider to be at least as important to our space policy as the President’s goals: Insure that the United States remains the world’s leader in scientific and engineering research and in educating young people for careers in science, engineering and technology. Unless the nation has a deep understanding of physical and biological nature – on and off our planet – we will not be successful in exploring space frontiers with robots or humans. Unless we attract more young people to science and engineering, and give them a solid education, we won’t be able to do the science or the exploration. Perhaps the greatest challenge for our space program is finding the talented people – scientists, engineers and other technical professionals – who will be needed to accomplish a bold space agenda for the nation. Careers in science and engineering are not as attractive to young people as they once were; and we are having a harder time attracting and retaining talented individuals from abroad. Universities where scientific and engineering research is strong are particularly important in addressing this technical workforce issue. I believe history has shown that the continued Federal investment in university research and graduate education is money well spent. NASA emphasizes that the Administration’s new program is primarily not about science, but about human exploration. But, science has been one of the most important successes of the U.S. space program. New scientific knowledge as well as revolutionary technologies have been the tangible products of the nation’s investments in space and are key to NASA’s accomplishment and well-deserved reputation for excellence throughout the world. It is vital to NASA’s future that the science not be given lower priority in the new program. There are many important scientific facilities and robotic missions already planned and others not yet conceived. These unmanned missions are by far the most cost effective way to do science. My concern is that money needed for human space exploration will erode the science budgets, especially given the need for substantial reallocations of money within the NASA budget. The words science and exploration are easily confused in most people’s minds. The rationales for the Shuttle and the International Space Station were never primarily about science, but I don’t believe that message ever got through to the public. There are examples where human exploration of space and science go hand-in-hand. Study of the effects of zero gravity on human physiology is one obvious example. Also, humans in space can be called upon to do things that otherwise would be very difficult, e.g. the successful repair and upgrade missions to the Hubble Space Telescope. It is disappointing that a decision has been made to terminate the enormously successful Hubble Space Telescope, and a planned servicing mission has been cancelled. I believe this decision ought to be reconsidered. I would ask the following questions: How will NASA and the Administration insure that the exploration goals of the moon-moon proposal do not cut into the science goals for NASA programs and those of other agencies? If NASA science missions are to be directed toward the goals of the moon-Mars proposal, does that mean that missions given higher priority by the science community will have lower priority by NASA? How was the Hubble cancellation decision arrived at and what was the rationale for that decision? How will NASA help the public to better understand the differences and connections between human space exploration and science and the rationales and best approaches for doing both? How will NASA strengthen its partnership with universities to support academic research and help recruit more scientists and engineers? The Budget Turning now to the second of the two overarching questions I posed earlier: Is the plan – including the budget – likely to accomplish these goals? The President has proposed 5% increases each year for the next five years. Given the size of the current and future projected deficits, proposing a modest growth budget is understandable. Indeed, following many years of disappointing budgets, 5% is good news for NASA. But, I believe the expectations raised by the President in his speech, far exceed the proposed budget for this ambitious program, even for the early stages of the plan. What the President has proposed implies a major reorganization, even change in culture, of NASA and its centers. The history of our space program has shown that coordination of activities across NASA centers and with industry remains very challenging. Significant reallocation of resources is met with strong resistance, often with the help of friends in Congress. Reorganization of NASA is probably long overdue. Furthermore, the NASA budget, especially the science budget, is severely earmarked in ways that usually do not address the agency’s top priorities and certainly limit the management flexibility of the Administrator. It will be impossible for the NASA Administrator and his NASA colleagues to make the necessary changes unless the White House and Congress support them fully. But, even with the best intentions and dedicated hard work of the Administrator and his talented NASA team, these budgets will appear to most of America, including the U.S. space industry, and to the world as ‘business as usual’. Unless the U.S. space plan is realistic, unless the Administration matches its rhetoric with estimated overall costs and an adequate budget, a false promise could do harm to our space efforts, dash the expectations of girls and boys who decide to become scientists and engineers in order to be a part of an exciting future in space, and seriously damage our credibility as the world’s leader in space exploration and science. I strongly urge the Administration and Congress to work together to look at several out-year budget scenarios and compare the objectives and milestones – for human exploration and for science – under each. It may well be that the nation has the capacity, given sufficient funding, to make progress at a much faster pace than the plan has proposed, especially with serious international engagement and cooperation and making use of decades of NASA’s experience, R&D, and promising new technologies and systems ready to be employed. It may be that the risks of terminating the Shuttle program before having an alternative means to put humans in space are too great to justify this step. There are likely to be scientific opportunities on the horizon that are so compelling that they will warrant additional funding. Thus, developing accurate cost estimates and corresponding objectives and milestones for various phases of the initiative along with a transparent set of agency priorities is essential. There are several questions one might ask: What are the estimated total costs of completing the construction of the Space Station and annual operating costs beyond that; the development, testing and commissioning of the new Crew Exploration Vehicle; robotic missions in preparation for a return to the moon; and the first human return to the moon and back? How will the $11 billion be reallocated within NASA’s budget? What changes will be made to the rest of NASA’s programs, especially the science programs, and with what levels of funding? What are the estimated costs of funding Russian or other non - U.S. flights to the Space Station after the Shuttle is phased out? Conclusion Mr. Chairman, I believe that the three goals outlined in the current Administration’s space plan are ambitious and worthy of serious consideration. And, as I have indicated, I would add a very important fourth goal: to strengthen NASA’s science program. However, the architecture of the President’s plan and overall cost have not been provided; and the five-year budget proposed to begin to accomplish these goals, in my opinion, is unrealistic. Hence, the Administration’s commitment rings hollow, inviting cynical criticism of the seriousness of the plan from our international space partners and from the American public as well. It is disappointing that two weeks after the President’s speech on space, none of the words “space”, “exploration”, or “science” appeared in the President’s state of the union message. The nation needs to be clear about why we have humans in space. We need a renewed vision and serious plan for space, especially as our Shuttle fleet continues to age and as we complete the International Space Station. But, that vision must be more than a dream. The President has provided a part of a vision; but he has not provided the architecture or the means. I would support real increases in the NASA budget, perhaps even larger than 5% per year. But along with that growth, NASA must be held accountable for the major reorganization that will be required and protection of its scientific programs, that are so important to the future of the nation. And the White House and the Congress will need to support the efforts of the NASA Administrator to do those things. Therefore, Mr. Chairman, I commend this Committee for holding these hearings, listening to a wide range of views, and working with NASA, the Administration and other in Congress to insure that we do not miss this window of opportunity to move the nation into a bold new direction for space science and human exploration of space. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Dr. Howard McCurdy
I am not here to give my personal views on the desirability of undertaking the space flight initiatives set out in the president’s speech on January 14, 2004, refocusing the purpose of the nation’s human space flight activities. Rather, I will comment on whether the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) as presently constituted is capable of carrying out that initiative. In my judgment, based on eighteen years of studying NASA’s organizational practices, it is not. The practices associated with human flight over the past decades have left NASA ill-prepared to undertake a focused exploration program, especially one that addressess the cost constraints imposed by the president’s directive. Yet this need not cause despair. NASA employees have overcome similar difficulties in the past and Congress can encourage them to do so again in the future. In essence, my message is one of cautious optimism. Accomplishment of the mission is not possible with the NASA that exists today, but the fact that the agency has transformed itself in the past encourages us to believe that transformation can occur again. Why NASA is Not Prepared For thirty-four years, a succession of leaders in the field of space exploration have called upon public officials to give NASA purpose and direction. As a science and engineering organization, relying upon project management techniques, NASA works best when the people implementing national space policy have a clear vision of their ultimate objective, the time available to accomplish those objectives, and the various constraints such as cost under which they must operate. From 1961 through the landings on the Moon, the human space flight program operated under such mandates. The purpose and timetable established in President John F. Kennedy’s May 25, 1961, speech provided focus for America’s civil space effort and imposed discipline on the new space agency. As Americans prepared for the lunar landings, NASA officials and other government leaders proposed to extend Kennedy’s vision. Much like the current initiative, they called for a post-Apollo space effort focused on the moon and Mars, bolstered by an energetic space science program. The report of the Space Task Group was presented in September, 1969, followed in later years by a succession of reports calling for much the same thing. In March, 1970, President Richard Nixon rejected the report of the Space Task Group, thereby initiating three decades of drift in which leaders of NASA’s human space flight program were obliged to operate without long-term focus and direction. In response, leaders of the space community adopted an incremental approach to human flight. They pursued elements of their long-range vision in succession, one at a time, without reference to an overarching goal. First they sought to complete a reusable space shuttle, originally conceived as a means of transferring people to and from an Earth-orbiting space station. Then they started work on the space station. As the date for declaring the space station “core complete” approached, NASA officials requested permission to pursue the next logical step in their long-remembered but never-approved long range plan. Thirty years of incremental drift have had a dysfunctional effect on NASA’s human space flight effort. Without a long-term goal to provide purpose for new human flight initiatives, NASA officials and their supporters have been obliged to create broad political coalitions as a means for getting new initiatives approved. The programs emerging from these coalitions have contained so many objectives that NASA officials have accomplished few of their specific goals. The NASA space shuttle, for example, was designed among its many objectives to carry people to and from an Earth orbiting space station, transport the components of that station to space, serve as a “space truck” for commercial payloads (some carrying upper stage rockets attached to payloads headed for geosynchronous orbit), deliver military reconnaissance satellites, deliver and repair (and possibly return) space telescopes, and serve as a short-duration micro-gravity research laboratory. The shuttle fleet had to be reusable, capable of launch up to 50 times per year, and cut the cost of launch operations to about $10 million per mission. As members of the Columbia accident investigation board observed, the existence of so many conflicting objectives severely compromised NASA’s ability to build a safe and reliable vehicle. “The increased complexity of a Shuttle designed to be all things to all people,” board members wrote, “created inherently greater risks than if more realistic technical goals had been set at the start.” The most serious mistake that NASA officials made in developing the vehicle dealt not with the design of any particular component, “but rather with the premise of the vehicle itself.” (CAIB report, p. 23) NASA officials undertook a similar approach to the design of the International Space Station. They appealed to astronomers, people interested in space science, advocates of a return to the Moon, commercial interests hoping to manufacture micro-gravity products, communication satellite companies, international partners, and the U.S. military. Early space station designs included hangers for satellite repair, micro-gravity research laboratories, mounts for observational instruments, pallets for scientific instruments, and two large keels within which large spacecraft bound for deep space missions could be prepared. Further confounding these objectives, NASA officials estimated that they could develop such a multi-functional facility for only $8.8 billion. Space station advocates learned that the political coalitions necessary to win approval for such initiatives were much easier to construct than the actual facilities. While attractive for building political support, the various station functions proved technically incompatible and impossible to develop within the proposed cost. As a consequence, NASA officials spent the entire ten years set for construction of the station (1984-1994), as well as the $8.8 billion cost estimate, redesigning the facility and reducing its scope. For thirty-four years, officials in the human space flight community have urged political leaders to adopt long-range space goals. Yet NASA officials during this period grew accustomed to the practices necessary to operate in an objective-free atmosphere. The effect of this cultural shift was readily apparent in the agency’s response to President George H. W. Bush’s 1989 proposal for a human Space Exploration Initiative focused on the Moon and Mars. Following the proposal, White House officials directed NASA to prepare an enabling plan. The study that agency leaders produced disappointment. To people outside NASA, the study seemed more like an exercise designed to protect existing agency programs and restore the health of ailing field centers than an opportunity to renew the long-term vision of space. NASA officials treated the Space Exploration Initiative as a healing balm, an ointment applied to the institutional members as a means to get well again. If NASA officials take a similar approach to the current Mars initiative, with its severe cost constraints, it will produce a similar result. The initiative will certainly die. During the period of institutional drift, NASA underwent additional changes that similarly compromised its capability to carry out complex human space flight activities in a reliable way. These alterations are well documented in the reports of the presidential commission that investigated the space shuttle Challenger accident and the Columbia Accident Investigation Board. Briefly stated, the reports concluded that NASA’s organizational culture had changed in detrimental ways. The agency had gone from an institution capable of meeting its goals to one in which human space flight officials struggled to achieve reliability, cost and schedule objectives which the agency operated. Cultures consist of the assumptions that people make as they go about their work. As a illustration of how much the NASA human space flight culture has changed, consider the follow point. NASA officials and their contractors in the early decades of space flight operated under the assumption that the agency would not launch a spacecraft until its designers could prove that they were ready to fly. In both the Challenger and Columbia accidents, NASA officials required concerned individuals to prove that spacecraft were not ready to fly (or land) in spite of visible safety concerns. Organizational practices such as these take root over many decades. Similarly, reforms require many years to become imbedded in the minds and habits of agency employees. Organization cultures take a long time to change. They deteriorate slowly and they revive themselves only after lengthy adjustment periods. Hope From History Confrontations with reality need not be a source of despair. In fact, the first step toward institutional recovery consists of acknowledging the situation as it exists. NASA’s human space flight effort has existed without focus and discipline for more than thirty years, leaving a legacy that will be difficult to change. Yet this is not impossible. It has happened before and it can happen again. In the Spring of 1961, when President Kennedy challenged Americans to race to the Moon, NASA was totally unprepared to carry out the mandate. Congress had created NASA three years earlier by melding the research laboratories within the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) with agencies like the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the Army Ballistic Missile Agency (ABMA). People from component agencies had great technical skill, but absolutely no experience managing activities on the scale of Project Apollo. They were accustomed to managing small research projects, not large-scale operations. The institutional habits of people who had inhabited the forty-three year old NACA were well set, as were the practices of employees working within the ABMA under Wernher von Braun’s rocket team. NASA officials at that time did not understand how to manage large programs. They did not have enough people; they did not have enough money. Existing field centers were independent and uncooperative. The United States lacked the technology to fly to the Moon. No American astronaut had ever flown in orbit, much less engaged in rendezvous and docking. No one knew how to get to the Moon and back. Leading strategies such as Earth Orbit Rendezvous and Direct Ascent were either technically infeasible or impossible to complete by the decade’s end. When he made the suggestion that the agency concentrate all of its resources on accomplishing the lunar goal, NASA’s head of human space flight was fired for what was then viewed as intemperate remarks. Yet eight years Americans returned safely from the Moon. During those eight years, NASA reorganized itself twice, forcing the leaders of previously independent field centers to submit to a central coordinating office in Washington, D.C. To oversee Project Apollo, NASA officials imported management experts from the Air Force ballistic missile program, the primary repository of people who understood large-scale systems management. NASA employees and their contractors perfected new technologies, such as hydrogen-fueled rockets and orbital rendezvous. They revised organizational procedures after the loss of three astronauts in a space capsule fire during a launch center ground test, a critical exercise in institutional learning. Like the current Administrator, the person who oversaw NASA during this period was an expert in management and finance. Neither an astronaut nor an engineer, James Webb was a budget director and President of the American Society for Public Administration. President Kennedy’s May, 1961, speech was a transforming event. It transformed NASA from an agency of technical experts into an institution capable of implementing extraordinarily complex space flight activities. The lessons learned through human space flight quickly spilled over onto the space science side, where individuals carried out the great planetary and space telescope missions of the decades that followed. Recently, NASA has transformed its space science activities. Space scientists have not suffered through the same drift that afflicts human space flight activities. Space science missions have been focused; objectives more apparent. Technology advances in areas such as imaging and automation have occurred. New management techniques have been perfected, some significantly different than the large-scale systems management practices that propelled the success (and the cost) of Project Apollo. Consider this fact as an illustration of the transformations occurring in space science. Stated in the inflation adjusted value of today’s dollars, the 1976 Viking mission to Mars cost $4 billion. For that sum, NASA successfully placed two landers on the surface of Mars. The Mars Exploration Rovers that arrived this January, 2004, are carrying out their missions for $820 million. Even acknowledging that funds for Project Viking also purchased two orbiters (total cost in today’s dollars about $800 million), the difference is dramatic. NASA space scientists have learned how to fly for a fraction of the cost of previous endeavors, using technologies that have advanced enormously. In searching for the means to mobilize an aggressive exploration program on Mars, NASA officials can turn to themselves for the necessary experience. The lessons exist within the agency, both today and historically. The Apollo flights to the Moon cost $25 billion in the currency of the time. That translates into a total cost of approximately $175 billion today. During the 1960s, NASA officials were told to achieve reliable space flight in a crash program with an impossibly tight schedule. For the current initiative, government leaders propose to loosen the schedule and the milestones associated with it, but to operate under severe cost constraints. In practical terms, NASA officials are being asked to fly reliably to the Moon and beyond for a fraction of the cost of Project Apollo. On its face, the task may seem impossible. Nonetheless, NASA officials have encountered similar challenges in the past and prevailed. They overcame analogous difficulties in the 1960s and they have achieved low-cost innovations in their robotics and space science programs. Lessons for the Future Although NASA employees are allowed a great deal of technical discretion in carrying out space flight programs, they do not operate in a vacuum. They respond to the nature of national space policy and the guidance they receive from Congress and the White House. The transformation of NASA’s human space flight activities will require a number of important changes, ones that can be encouraged by congress and the executive. In general, transformation will require NASA to become more like the agency that sent Americans to the Moon and robots to Mars and less like the agency that fumbled the development of the space shuttle, International Space Station, and Space Exploration Initiative. It will require the installation of cost discipline, the resurrection of a culture of reliability, the restoration of discipline and focus, and the merging of robotic and human capabilities. These will be major changes, wide in scope and particular in detail. To encourage the transformation of NASA, members of Congress might consider the following practices. 1. Be very clear about goals. Mission ambiguity and wiggle-room are the enemies of discipline and focus within NASA. For example, the mission as contained in the presidential directive does not seem to include a lunar base as an intermediate step to Mars. The moon is to be used only insofar as it contributes to the exploration of Mars, as a test bed or proving ground for deep space technologies. Additionally, the purpose of the program is not to land humans on Mars. Rather, the purpose as expressed thus far is the exploration of Mars using humans and robots. Experience tells us that the optimal mix of robotic and human flight technology is likely to change significantly as the mission evolves, discouraging a definition that presupposes a specific role for humans in advance. 2. Make cost constraint a mission goal. During Project Apollo, meeting the “end of the decade” deadline imposed an objective as important to the definition of mission success as landing astronauts on the Moon and bringing them safely home. The deadline repeatedly served to focus attention on necessary tasks; it strongly influenced technical decisions such as the one to engage in “all up” testing of the Saturn V. In NASA’s robotic and satellite programs, cost constraint has risen as a mission goal to a place commensurate with science objectives. NASA employees have repeatedly demonstrated that they can achieve multiple objectives – reliability plus cost or schedule goals – so long as those objectives are clearly stated. 3. Restore in-house technically capability to the human space flight program. NASA’s secret weapon for completing Project Apollo arose from a combination of strong in-house technical capability with systems management techniques imported from outside. Many people agree that NASA has lost too much of its in-house technical capability, especially for human space flight. Agency employees who spend most of their time monitoring contracts cannot maintain the technical edge necessary to explore Mars. To produce outstanding results, they need to work with flight hardware. This has been demonstrated repeatedly in both the human and robotic flight programs, most recently within the Mars exploration effort. Successful missions, such as Pathfinder, have been led by persons with extensive “hands on” knowledge of spacecraft components. Experience suggests that 30 percent of the work (and money) associated with the program should be retained in-house. 4. Insist that NASA keep the program as simple as possible. When complexity rises, so do overall costs -- often exponentially. Complexity can arise from demands for international cooperation or the desire to spread work among many field centers. These demands are often irrelevant to mission objectives. Complexity can also result from the extensive use of formal systems management techniques. While these techniques are useful for promoting reliability, they are being supplanted in government and industry by leaner project teams whose members utilize less complicated forms of management. These management reforms, used on Project Pathfinder, the Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous mission, and the Mars Exploration Rovers, allow project leaders to meet technically challenging mission goals while severely restraining mission cost. 5. Reward NASA officials when they make tough decisions. The restoration of focus and discipline will require difficult choices affecting existing installations and future programs. The recent history of human space flight suggests that agency officials may be reluctant to undertake needed change. Obstacles to change, moreover, may be more difficult to surmount than ones encountered in the past. The people managing Project Apollo built an organization from the ground up, expanding NASA’s budget five-fold and its internal work force by a factor of three. Proprietors of the current mission must work with an agency that will not be allowed to grow. If they sense that they are being punished for hard decisions, they may be reluctant to undertake needed change. When planning for Project Apollo got underway in 1961, many of the participants had strong views about the mission. Some wanted to build orbiting space stations, and suggested that the expedition leave from a rendezvous point in low-Earth orbit. Others wanted to build enormous rockets, and recommended a strategy called direct ascent. Different centers wanted to be involved in different ways. An engineer from NASA’s Langley Research Center tried to explain that America could not reach the moon by the end of the decade unless it utilized a spacecraft that remained in lunar orbit while two astronauts piloted another vehicle to the surface of the moon. At first, the idea seemed preposterous. The United States had not conducted a successful rendezvous in Earth orbit, much less one around the Moon. More significantly, the idea upset the plans of people with different agendas. The engineer persisted. “Do we want to get to the Moon or not,” he asked. The question silenced critics. The discipline of the mission forced people to forgo vested interests and work toward their common goal. In a similar fashion, vested interests must fall if people in the space community seriously pursue this new goal. If they do, this new objective will be a transforming event, just as other great objectives were before it. If and when the United States completes the missions set out this year, the agency that does the work will bear little resemblance to the agency that exists today – just as the institution that landed humans on the Moon in 1969 hardly resembled the agency that received President John F. Kennedy’s famous challenge in May, 1961. * * * Dr. Howard McCurdy is professor of public affairs and chair of the public administration department at American University in Washington, D.C. An expert on space policy, he recently authored Faster, Better, Cheaper, a critical analysis of cost-cutting initiatives in the U.S. space program. An earlier study of NASA’s organizational culture, Inside NASA, won the 1994 Henry Adams prize for that year’s best history on the federal government. He has also written Space and the American Imagination and co-edited Spaceflight and the Myth of Presidential Leadership. His work appears in scholarly journals such as Public Administration Review and Space Policy. He is often consulted by the media on public policy issues and has appeared on national news outlets such as the Jim Lehrer News Hour, National Public Radio, and NBC Nightly News. Professor McCurdy received his bachelor’s and master’s degree from the University of Washington and his doctorate from Cornell University.
Mr. Richard Tumlinson
Mr. Chairman, members of the committee, Just a few months ago I sat in this same room, calling for the United States to return to the Moon, as I and many in the space frontier movement have been doing for over twenty years. We in the Space Frontier Foundation have been calling for NASA to retire (or scuttle) the space shuttles, get out of Earth to LEO human and payload transport, and open the space station to commercial activities. We have also been calling for this nation to redefine the relationship between the government and private sector space activities, so that a new partnership might be created which would lead to a vital and growing human frontier in space stretching from the Earth to the Moon and beyond. A few weeks ago, I was privileged (and somewhat surprised, given my long history of criticism of our national space program) to be invited by the White House to attend the President’s announcement that this nation would indeed be returning to the Moon. As you can imagine I was pleased to hear that our message had been heard. Ladies and gentlemen, I sat just a few feet from the President as he made his historic announcement, just as some of you did. And I looked into the man’s eyes as deeply as I could during the whole speech. I believe he means what he is saying. I believe he truly wants us to begin opening space to the American people, to establish this nation permanently on the Moon and from their to catapult ourselves to the planet Mars and beyond. I am not so naïve as to be unaware of the political aspects of his announcement, dropped into the middle of the primary season of the opposing party, nor the positive note it adds to his own candidacy for re-election. But I am also aware of the downside of making such an announcement in a campaign year, especially at time when many who oppose his policies will be automatically pre-disposed to attack the ideas he spoke of, simply because they came from his mouth. Just as if, were he to say the sky is blue, his opponents would immediately argue that it is not. So to be honest, there is both an up and a down side to his timing. In fact, a part of me wishes he would have waited until after the elections, as I do not wish to see the Democratic party make a knee jerk reaction that rejects the core concepts of his proposal. The fact that this plan is designed to begin with small incremental down payments that grow like the balloon payment on a home mortgage in the years after he leaves office also does not go unnoticed. But I can attribute this to the desire to make the idea a bit easier to swallow now, and is based on his confidence that our national economy will be able to handle such costs when the bill comes due. Even with major growth in our national space budget, the numbers spoken of are much smaller than the relative cost of our first push to the Moon was to our over all GDP. I think the timeline is too slow - after all we went to the Moon from an almost standing start, developing three or four new launchers (if you count the LEM) and did it all in 7 years over 35 years ago. Let's get some challenge in there! It will help to focus and drive our space program. Also, I believe International partnering should not be based on State Dept. motives, but who can do the best work in a given area at the best price. International deals are done every second in the private sector on just such a basis. Finally, the real private sector MUST be involved early on, not as a show, not as an after thought. If the Moon base is to turn into a settlement or community, it has to be designed to do so from day one. For example, as I discuss below, after the scouting and base camp phase, it would be good to see something along the line of NASA offering to rent X square feet of the buildings for X number of years or some such scheme that builds in the idea that NASA is not trying to yet again take on more facilities and overhead, but is just passing through on the way to Mars. However, overall, I am supportive of the concept as outlined in his speech. The Moon, Mars and the asteroids that float between the worlds of our solar system do indeed represent the future of humanity. It would be pure ignorant hubris to declare that we should not expand our species and the domain of life beyond this Earth, much like the declarations of a serf in medievil Europe proclaiming that the world ends just beyond the boundaries of his own village. Similarly, there is the short term thinking that leads to the conclusion that somehow science and the advancement of knowledge will somehow be damaged by the growth of human activities in space. As if the exploration and settlement of this new world where we sit today somehow held back the march of scientific progress, rather than driving our advancements and understanding of ourselves and the universe forward at a pace unknown before our ancestors struck out into the unknown. We are truly just at the bare beginnings of the story of humanity and the life forms of the Earth. And we stand poised to take bold steps outwards – if we can do so wisely, economically, and for the right reasons. Those reasons are as wide and varied as those who look at the Moon and stars at night and feel their calling. Many speakers have laid out the possibilities, from Dr. Paul Spudis, who sang of the possibilities offered by the Moon, to Dr. Rober Zubrin , who waxes poetic about the vast vistas available to us on the planet Mars, Dr Gerard O’Neill, my mentor, who created a vision of humanity spreading out in colonies of glass and steel in the space between worlds. All of these visions can be made real. All of the benefits to us these men have spoken of are real, as are a thousand more they could no more imagine than those who first came to this new world could imagine that the land they were exploring for gold and glory would give the world the Bill of Rights, the Constitution, and an ongoing revolution in thought, science and medicine that has completely transformed our human civilization. And therein lies the big question. Does the President’s proposal leads to the Real opening of the frontier – by which I mean the expansion of the human domain beyond the Earth? Not outposts, not stations, not laboratories, but economically viable and growing communities of human beings that can eventually become new branches of our civilization. For if that is not the end point of this exercise, then, as some in our science community have said repeatedly, we should send robots instead. Also, if this endeavor is to be led by and for the government, and the above is its litmus test for success, it will fail. Government’s do not open frontiers. People do – with the assistance of their governments, and sometimes in spite of those same governments. To succeed Every possible way to produce value (Include scientific value as well as economic) must be combined. If those two elements are then put into an equation, and the end result is positive or can be projected to turn positive we have a winner. If not, we have a negative cash/value flow and a loser. (NOTE - None of these elements was considered or kept on the table for ISS!) --- Put giant KISS! (Keep It Simple Stupid!) posters everywhere, in all centers and offices. Give rewards for designs and ideas that go that way instead of the high tech, over specialized direction. For example, Rutan trumpets the fact that his flyers are the lowest technology, most off the shelf he could build, and where possible, units and structures are duplicated (look at the shapes etc. of his carrier and sub-orbital elements - cast in the same molds). Learn the lesson and apply it to the Moon. If a Home Depot bolt will work, use it. If you can go with voltages, air pressures etc. that make things simpler, then do it. Save high tech for later... --- Rather than designing the habs etc. themselves, NASA should stay Lewis and Clark – like and focus on such things as scouting expeditions, and an early base camp that is designed to be expandable. Then put out a call to the non-space community for facilities that are low cost, robust, low maintenance and modular or expandable on a larger scale. NASA and other agencies could then sign ten or fifteen year leases, indicating (in the case of NASA) they are not planning on squatting down on the Moon but are moving on. (not ISS redux on the Moon.) --- So some NASA guy will look out there and say “we can’t find any firms engaged in the right kinds of activities or willing to partner with us.” Duh. Talk about self-fulfilling prophecy. Of course not. You killed them all over the last thirty years, or trashed their ideas and killed off their investors, or supported your aerospace friends to the point you drove them out of business. The private sector has been so burned for so long by NASa in the past that they must be coaxed back into space. Sponsor events and meetings with people in the military, business and commercial research/transport/life support communities and listen to them. Oil platforms, private diving bells and Navy subs, Hilton Hotels, airlines, all have lessons that can be transferred to this effort. The private sector has done a fair job of turning this New World into a permanent and expanding frontier. I bet they can help a little on the next one. The International Space Station As we move forward to the Moon, the International Space Station should be transformed into a multi-faceted nexus for both government and private sector activities. Some of these activities will be in support of the Lunar effort, and some will not, but all will contribute to the development of a vibrant human presence in LEO. In his speech the President said: “Our first goal is to complete the International Space Station by 2010 … finish what we have started." Let me make a few important points: --- Almost all the original goals laid out for the space station have already been abandoned. It needs to be redefined and the program totally reformed or this will not happen. --- We are not in charge of the station. We have partners who are using it for their own purposes, and interestingly, many of those partners are moving quickly towards private sector dominance of their activities and areas on station – as should we. --- As the agency is cutting back its level of participation, there will be other orbital facilities, including the first space hotel modules, if entrepreneurs such as the self-funded Bob Bigelow in Nevada are to be believed (and given his wealth, determination and the realistic basis of his plans as revealed so far I do believe him.) other firms are looking at modules that might attach at first to the ISS and then through a "budding" process become independant free flying facilites themselves. Remember, the Chinese will also be flying their own facility by that time. This all means that a community can be developed that will create an economics of scale, a mutual interdependence and back up capability in case of disasters and accidents. (See my 1995 Testimony to the House Space Subcommittee on the idea of "Alpha Town" the first community in orbit.) I used to be in favor of what I called an International Space Station Authority. This would have been a mechanism to wrest control from NASA and hand it to a more commercial friendly entity that would be less likely to play favorites when it came to which companies would provide services, establish the rule of law, set safety standards etc. As a great military strategist once said that the commander who cannot change his tactics based on changes on the field of battle is doomed to lose. Thus I have dropped the ISSA concept, since NASA is planning to divest its majority ownership one way or the other in the coming years. The future I see for the facility would be one wherein NASA's role would become that of a tenant, who's main focus is the preparation and experimentation it needs to plan missions to Mars. I would like to see the US government set up a management structure for the US portion that would allocate NASA what it needs, and also open the rest of our ISS elements up to private sector use. This could mean anything from university operated labs and experiments to commercial research. Also, the new charter would allow and encourage the attachment of new modules, probably completely commercially owned and operated that could house experiments, and even accommodations for commercial guests such as future Dennis Titos (who I had the honor of signing up to fly into space a few years ago). Another commercial activity would be a construction shack and factory operated by commercial astronauts based on Dennis Wingo's on orbit assembly concepts. These space workers would be engaged in activities such as on-orbit construction of large space telescopes, antenna arrays, large space probes and even the ships to travel to Mars. One major idea would be to have the Hubble space telescope moved by an orbital tug to an orbit above the ISS, so that it could be lowered to the facility for astronaut EVAs to service it. The Hubble is far too valuable a resource to throw away, and NASA plans to do so are expensive, limited in vision and reveal a complete lack of understanding of the frontier ethic of keeping things low cost by re-using and re-cycling whenever possible. Space Transportation The President Said: “Our second goal….to develop and test a new spacecraft, the Crew Exploration Vehicle, by 2008, and to conduct the first manned mission no later than 2014…” --- I can see the SEV becoming the new OSP/X-33/NASP/X-38/ etc. - a cash draining, show killing tech project. NO NO NO! if every element in the transportaion part of the equation isn’t low cost, robust and re-usable or designed to become so ASAP, then let’s quit now and go home as this project is DOA. --- By the time NASA speaks of pulling out of its major role on ISS, there will probably be other players in the Earth to LEO transportation arena, so the support of ISS will not be a limited sum game. There may well be a wide array of possible Earth to Leo transportation alternatives. The private sector firms that make up what I call the Alternative or Alt.Space transportation firms will be well on their way to becoming full fledged orbital access providers - if the government can provide the regulatory and investment incentives they so desperately need if they are incentivised to cross from largely being sub-orbital or small payload orbital companies into the orbital game by prizes and multiple source pay for delivery services. --- NASA must get out of the Earth to LEO business entirely. An astronaut’s mission used to start on the Earth’s surface. This will no longer be true. They will be able to ride into space on private vehicles, and NASA can save its time and funds working on the next leap – between planets. I know some think there will be an all-in-one vehicle developed for transit from Earth surface to these other worlds, but such a concept is ridiculous, short sighted and probably the most expensive way such movement can be accomplished. If one reads the President’s policy carefully, and from a frontier perspective, the call for a crew Exploration Vehicle can be read as meaning a transporter that lives in space, and goes to and from destinations there, without returning to Earth itself. (A model that makes far more sense than carrying all of the hardware one would need for transits in and out of our atmosphere.) --- The Near Frontier transportation system will need a re-fueling capability that can circumvent the incredibly high costs of bringing propellant up from the Earth’s surface, and a port for flights to and from the Moon and eventually Mars. Paul Spudis and others have advocated mining Lunar elements at the poles of the Moon and using them to create “space gas” that can then be shipped down the gravity well and used to re-fuel all kinds of space craft, and satellites. I understand one might not wish to have a space "gas station" in close proximity to inhabited facilities, but it can be developed and constructed using ISS astronauts. The NASA institutional side of the facility could contract out services from the commercial team if needed for fueling their Mars ships. ---I am also concerned that projects like the planned nuclear Prometheus vehicle and other high tech space – to – space elements will pace and slow down the program. This must not be allowed to happen. Stay simple at first. Get the first rope across the ravine, then work up to the foot bridge and then go for the super highway. Start development early though, so your needs intersect with your capabilities down the road...so to speak. As I discussed last fall, there is a growing alternative space movement there in America. Whatever NASA does or does not do, this community, which is investing tens of millions to develop new space vehicles and orbital facilities, will open the space frontier in its own way. While America turned its eye to the past at Kittyhawk this December, famed aircraft designer Burt Rutan’s sub-orbital rocket ship broke the sound barrier in Mojave, California. Few noticed, and fewer understand what this means. But as I also noted in my previous testimony, the goal of flying the first non-government rocketship into space is on track to be realized before the end of this year. Elon Musk’s SpaceX will be flying small payloads into orbit at a dramatically lower cost per pound than current government vendors within the same time frame, and at least a half dozen other firms are on track to cross the finish lines in this alternative space race. I mention this to let you know that there really are potential commercial partners out there beyond the current NASA contractors. The door to space is about to be blown wide open. The Moon The President said: “Our third goal is to return to the Moon by 2020.” Most of the comments I would make on this third element of his plan are contained in the following OpEd. Return to the Moon – For the Right Reasons, in the Right Way (from an editorial in Space News) “We do this and the other things not because they are easy, but because they are hard…” President John F. Kennedy – from his speech announcing Apollo. Any discussion of a permanent return to the Moon (RTM) must be centered on two over riding questions: “Why?” and “How?” The answers to each of those questions are interrelated and one affects the other. If we go for the wrong reasons we will fail. If we go for the right reasons and do it the wrong way, we will fail. And if we don’t go at all, then we will have failed in a way that will send ripples down through the ages. There are many different answers to “Why?” They include: far side observatories to seek life on other worlds; studies of Earth’s history by studying the Moon’s surface and geology; near side Earth observation telescopes (Triana on the Moon); searching for platinum class metals in asteroids buried in the surface; giant solar arrays beaming power to communications satellites and solar sail transports; isolated laboratories to try new and dangerous schemes; taking the high ground militarily; driving the creation of new technologies; and of course, backing up the biosphere and human civilization in case of catastrophe and expanding the domain of life and humanity. There are also a few more subtle reasons we go: We go to force the re-structuring of our national space activities. – NASA’s human spaceflight program today is like an old ex- athlete who won the Olympics a long time ago. It is bloated, inflexible, self-indulgent, and lives on re-runs of its better days. It is neither inspiring nor useful. In fact, it is harmful, as without a mandate to move out to the Far Frontier of the Moon and beyond, NASA has squatted down in LEO and claimed it as its own, blocking any who might try to do anything useful on its “turf.” We can let it slowly die, or we can trim the fat and get it into shape by making it get out of the doorway to space, back into the arena, and forcing it to run again – this time with a team-mate called private enterprise – to whom it can hand the baton at the right moment. We go to inspire. – The most important thing we got out of Apollo was inspiration. It was a star of hope in the darkness of the Cold War. It was the reason I am in this field, and the same goes for many of you reading this. The internet, telecom, the incredible advances in medicine and science, these breakthroughs are coming from organizations whose founders and investors were often born and raised during the Apollo program, and while its legacy was still fresh. If one looks at the numbers of engineers and science students graduated in the US, there is a clear correlation, and right now those numbers are falling, fast. We go to prepare for even greater things. – We cannot throw expendable humans at Mars without knowing what happens to a spacesuit in a high radiation, high temperature differential, dirty, vacuum after its been worn and sweated in for six weeks. We need to learn how to operate off planet, how to build for permanence and how to live off the land in space. Also, those who advocate a direct drive to Mars ignore a major historical fact – the colonies in North America could not have survived without the ports of England and Europe. The development of a strong Earth-LEO-Moon infrastructure, dominated by commercial enterprises, is a necessity, if humans-to Mars is not to be another unsustainable flags and foot prints fiasco or perennial taxpayer funded government housing project. The “How?” of returning to the Moon partially determines the “Why?” For example, if the timeline is too long, the budget too large, the end goal too amorphous, and the whole project is run by the usual suspects in the usual way, the end result will be an uninspiring, over budget dead end like the International Space Station (ISS). To make a Return to the Moon permanent, inspiring, economical and beneficial to the taxpayers who pay for it all, we must do the right things. The Greatest Frontier All of these ideas, for a new and revitalized ISS, for a return to the Moon, the establishment of the first space settlements, and the dream of expanding life beyond Earth, will not be achievable if we do the wrong things, proceed in the wrong manner, and aim at the wrong goals. First, we must ignore the whining of those who say they need a lot more money and time. We went from a standing start to standing on the Moon in under ten years – forty years ago! Keep in mind, when Kennedy asked the NASA of that time if it could be done, they told him no, and then they went and did it when ordered to. Next, we must re-structure NASA, as the agency in its current form cannot handle the job. The center-based structure of today must be ended and several non-relevant centers closed or handed over to other agencies. Activities such as aeronautics and Earth studies must be handed off to the FAA and NOAA. Planetary robotic exploration should be given to JPL and the National Science Foundation (NSF). NASA must shed operational activities such as LEO transport and running the space station. The Orbital Space Plane should be canceled - now. Prizes, multiple source contracts, investment and tax incentives must be put in place to encourage the new Alt.Space firms to take over human transport to space, and drive the traditional aerospace giants to modernize or get out of the field. The space station should be mothballed, handed to our partners or be taken over by a quasi-commercial Space Station Authority as a destination for commercial and university users. ISS and other NASA pet projects must not be grafted onto a moon project simply because they exist. If they really support it they are in, if not, they are out. What is left should be divided into two parts. The first should be a lean mean human exploration machine that focuses on the Lewis and Clark function and acquiring or creating the lowest tech tools possible to travel and explore beyond the Earth. The second should be an agency like the old National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics from which NASA was created. Its job would be to push the envelope of space technologies and systems in support of our space industries. The new NASA would then be one of several players in any RTM project along with DOD, DARPA, NOAA, NSF, universities, and most importantly, the commercial sector. NASA will support planetary transportation systems development, scouting, surveying and pitching the first base camp, then others take over as the agency focuses on developing systems for Mars exploration – it’s next destination. For the Moon Base to survive and prosper, it must be built in the right spot, it must be robust, easy to operate at low cost, as self sufficient as possible and be easy to expand. The International Space Station is failing because it is in the wrong place, too delicate, too expensive to operate, and produces nothing of great value - scientific or commercial. To pay for the Moon Base we must combine a wide variety of income producing activities and services, such as those listed above. BUT, the people building the habitats after the first phase, operating the telescopes, and running the facility itself should NOT be government employees. The long term Lunar facilities should be designed and built by private firms in response to a short list of needs put out by the partners, with the US government leasing those it needs. Long term management of the base should be in the form of a Moon Base Authority to promote new activities, manage infrastructure, oversee safety, and enforce the law. Tied to the Earth with Red Tape Forget the Moon, forget Mars. The greatest frontier NASA has to face is itself. From timid bureaucracies to over burdening regulations and procurement rules to outright “Not Invented Here” turf oriented jealousies, NASA’S culture must be changed, and this mandate must come from outside of the agency, and even from beyond the scope of the new commission being formed as we speak to look into how to accomplish these goals. Without dramatic, near – term and permanent changes the President’s initiative will fail. And I am very afraid that the discussion now underway is nowhere near strong enough nor has it reached deeply enough to force logical people to make the hard choices needed. For example, at a level above the agency, we must modify the overly burdensome Federal Acquisition Regulations or throw them out completely in favor of fee for service and delivery business style operations. Along the way the incredible piles of paperwork NASA uses to certify and manage each piece of hardware should be pared to a minimum. The space community is rife with examples of NASA loading potential providers down with paperwork. Sometimes even the simplest sounding deal is drowned in paper. Safety and quality needs to be assured certainly, but at some point it gets ridiculous. This story came to me from Bill Haynes, a former Air Force test pilot. “(Consider) the carabiners astronauts use to tether themselves during EVA. The best climber's carabiner at REI costs $19.00. I found the manufacturer of NASA's carabiners, and he said he charges $1,095.00 each. When I told him about REI's, he said sure, he could probably sell his for a $100 or so, except that NASA requires a "pedigree" all the way from the mine for every ounce of aluminum in his, his welders and machinists each have to be re-certified every six months and the paperwork stack that accompanies each carabiner is inches high. That might make sense for say, the turbine buckets in the Space Shuttle Main Engines. It makes absolutely no sense for those carabiners that will never encounter more than about a fifty lb. load in space. The REI carabiners are rated at 6,500 lbs.” This approach to the business of space will not get us to the Moon again. New Approaches Every possible way to produce value (Include scientific value as well as economic) must be combined and every way to reduce costs must be found. If those two elements are then put into an equation, and the end result is positive or can be projected to turn positive we have a winner. If not, we have a negative cash/value flow and a loser. (NOTE - None of these elements was considered or kept on the table for ISS!) --- Put giant KISS! (Keep It Simple Stupid!) posters everywhere, in all centers and offices. Give rewards for designs and ideas that go that way instead of the high tech, over specialized direction. For example, Rutan trumpets the fact that his flyers are the lowest technology, most off the shelf he could build, and where possible, units and structures are duplicated (look at the shapes etc. of his carrier and sub-orbital elements - cast in the same molds). Learn the lesson and apply it to the Moon. If a Home Depot bolt will work, use it. If you can go with voltages, air pressures etc. that make things simpler, then do it. Save high tech for later... --- Rather than designing the habs etc. themselves, NASA should stay Lewis and Clark – like and focus on such things as scouting expeditions, and an early base camp that is designed to be expandable. Then put out a call to the non-space community for facilities that are low cost, robust, low maintenance and modular or expandable on a larger scale. NASA and other agencies could then sign ten or fifteen year leases, indicating (in the case of NASA) they are not planning on squatting down on the Moon but are moving on. (not ISS redux on the Moon.) --- NASA should offer to buy data wherever possible. Prizes should be offered for milestons that can be reasonably offered to the private sector. Or if the word “prizes” is unpalatable, let’s call them “contingency contracts”. For example, within the next year or so a short term, let’s say 2 year “contingency contract” of around $80 million could be offered for high resolution images of the potentail base camp site at the Lunar south pole. If it is won, we get our information scheap and spur several new firms into action. If not, there is still plenty of time for NASA to launch its own probes. --- So some NASA guy will look out there and say “we can’t find any firms engaged in the right kinds of activities or willing to partner with us.” Talk about self-fulfilling prophecy. Of course not. NASA killed them all over the last thirty years, or trashed their ideas and killed off their investors, or supported thier aerospace friends to the point you drove them out of business. The private sector has been so burned for so long by NASA in the past that they must be coaxed back into space. Sponsor events and meetings with people in the military, business and commercial research/transport/life support communities and listen to them. Oil platforms, private diving bells and Navy subs, Hilton Hotels, airlines, all have lessons that can be transferred to this effort. The private sector has done a fair job of turning this New World into a permanent and expanding frontier. I bet they can help a little on the next one. I was heartened to see the inclusion of language in the President’s policy that indicated an awareness of these needed changes, but I m still concerned that bureaucratic inertia will swallow any new and radically different ideas (or what those of us outside of the agency might call “common sense”). The idea of an outside commission to lay the groundwork for this push outwards is a good idea. But it needs to be vested with real authority, and be comprised of space experts, business leaders and “out of the box” thinkers. Unfortunately I am concerned the deck is already being stacked the wrong way, even if it is not being done so consciously. The leadership of the commission for example, must be free of all ties to those who stand to benefit from its deliberations, nor should they have that appearance. This is not to question the integrity of anyone who might volunteer their time to do this important work, but to avoid any questions whatsoever about the validity of their findings and plans. I am hopeful that such considerations are going into the selection process, and any such issues are being rectified. If the right people are assembled for this work, and given the mandate that appears in the president’s speech – namely to open the space frontier, then I am confident thatlogic, history and common sense will prevail in their plans. I hope the White House, this body and NASA in particular pay attention, interact with them and move on their recommendations. I would also hope that the commission be empaneled to revisit this new space agenda on a regular basis. Conclusion In conclusion, I think we have before us an exciting and powerful vision. We need not empty the coffers of our nation to make it happen, and in fact will create enourmous new wealth, in the form of both economic and scientific wealth. If we can employ the power and genius of free enterprise we can transform our moribound space program into something incredible. But the people in this room, in this building and in this town must lead this time, and not be led, by lobbiests and Center Directors, party bickering and pork barrel politics. Let’s get back to exploring. Let’s let loose our reborn Lewis and Clarks to blaze the way for new generations and let’s make sure everyone, especially those at NASA know they are spending our money to clear the way so we can follow. The space program will then get all the support it needs. For if we want to inspire and create excitement in our children We must go somewhere! Go fast, go hard, and don't wait around developing the absolutely highest tech most expensive machine to get there. Use what you've got and go! Live off the land. Put the urgency of danger and joy of discovery together and people will pay attention. Explore! Shine alight into a new lava tube on the moon...Dig for that water in the Aikin basin, show the blast off of the first mission to Mars, launched from the Moon…the pale blue marble of Earth in the distance. Feed that helmet camera shot of the Valles Marinaris to the world. And cover it live, good or bad, success or failure, life or death... For good measure, don't deny that people will die, or act surprised when it happens - make that risk part of the message....drop the obsessive lip service about safety and focus on being safe....assure that NASA and our people in space are doing their best to be safe, adopt serious procedures to do avoid death....but say up front that people will die on this quest. And once we are back to the Moon DONT STOP...it will be just as boring for NASA to be landlord on the Moon as in LEO. Show some learning. Get there, scout, set up the beginnings of the base. As others move in (universities, institutes, commercial users) the agency can go off in a nearby crater and begin developing its planetary surface exploration capabilities, then move on to Mars, where the vistas are larger and the opportunities for long term excitement abound. But don't squat down again. MOVE.
Dr. Louis Friedman
Chairman McCain, Senator Hollings, and Members of the Committee: Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the National Space Policy Directive issued two weeks ago by President Bush. Both its title, “A Renewed Spirit of Discovery,” and its stated goal to “extend human presence across the solar system,” capture a spirit that we at The Planetary Society have long advocated. The new Policy Directive states clearly that the human space program will no longer flounder without a compelling goal, and will finally set its sights on other worlds. Understanding and extending life beyond Earth is the only purpose that justifies the cost and risk of human space flight. In the past much has been made of “manned” vs. “unmanned” programs – creating a sense of animosity between the human and robotic aspects of exploration. This is absurd – exploration requires sophisticated robots, no matter where the humans are, and, as humans, we are not satisfied with robots being our emissaries forever – especially when asking for popular support from a taxpaying public. We welcome the Policy Directive’s up-front statement that the goal of the American space program is to “Implement a sustained and affordable human and robotic program to explore the solar system and beyond” (emphasis, mine). Restoring exploration as the raison d’etre of the space program is a welcome development to those of us motivated by science and exploration. The goal and vision are terrific. Setting goals and providing a broad vision are the President’s job, and that of you and your colleagues. The challenge and question now is its implementation. Other space visions have turned out to be counter-productive to advancing space exploration, even with some noble aims: the shuttle, the space station, the 1989 “Moon-Mars Initiative,” for example. A great deal of public, political and international constituency building will be required. Cost and rationale are key to the constituency building, and these have not yet been adequately explained. Unfortunately, the Administration space policy study was conducted in secret; now there should be a period of public interaction. There is adequate time for this – the Administration’s proposed first steps in the new policy are overdue and needed in any case to save our human space program. Those welcome first steps in the implementation include: · Retire the shuttle quickly after completing assembly of the International Space Station -- 2010 is mentioned as a target year. Redirecting the U.S. role in the space station to focus “on supporting the space exploration goal;” · Separating crew and cargo, not just in launch vehicles but for “transportation to the International Space Station and for launching exploration missions beyond low Earth orbit;” · Building a new crew vehicle that would “provide crew transportation for missions beyond low Earth orbit.” Previous Orbital Space Plane requirements did not mention such missions. · “Conduct robotic exploration across the solar system for scientific purposes and to support human exploration.” This is particularly welcome – the policy is not limited to the moon and Mars, and supports science, even “to understand the history of the solar system.” The Planetary Society has previously advocated all of these. These are the first steps – the ones that have to be funded and carried out in the five-year budget projections that the President will submit to Congress in a few days. We believe they are affordable and reasonable, and that worthy programs in space science would need not be cut to permit their accomplishment. The questions and concerns about the Policy Directive are longer-term, beyond the five-year period. There are many open technical questions: the launch vehicles to be used for human flights to the Moon and Mars, the on-orbit assembly and propulsion requirements, the design of the interplanetary crew vehicle and dealing with weightless flight and the dangers of high radiation levels, setting up Mars infrastructure support robotically, and the crew activity planning for Mars exploration. The program set out in the Policy Directive allow proper time for answering these questions, while at the same time accomplishing the first steps to redirect the program. Funds for vehicles and human missions beyond Earth orbit are not yet allocated. The projected NASA budget may be inadequate for dealing with all the technical challenges and conducting human missions on the Moon or sending humans to Mars. But, ways to lessen the cost of human exploration of Mars, including from international partnerships, should also be learnt during this period. The Planetary Society urges that a Mars Outpost be set up robotically at a potential human landing site for emplacing robotic infrastructure that can increase reliability and safety and lower cost for the human mission. A Mars Outpost is an appropriate goal for international robotic Mars programs in the next decade. Cost is determined by requirements. The technical steps cited above, and the emplacement of a robotic Mars Outpost, can reduce the cost of sending the humans to Mars. Conversely, Martian exploration will be more expensive if it includes extensive lunar objectives, prohibitively so if they include developing permanent lunar bases or open-ended exploration for speculative lunar resources. Much rhetoric and even some of the official statements accompanying the Directive have been confused or misleading on this subject. One even called for launching spacecraft from the Moon into the solar system. There is probably no more expensive way that could be devised to reach Mars. Fortunately, the President’s policy itself does not call for these things. It says only that we should “Undertake lunar exploration activities to enable sustained human and robotic exploration of Mars and more distant destinations in the solar system” and “Use lunar exploration activities to further science, and to develop and test new approaches, technologies, and systems, including use of lunar and other space resources, to support sustained human space exploration to Mars and other destinations.” The underlined phrases clearly specify that lunar activities should be directed to enable Mars exploration, and not be an end in and of themselves. Use of lunar resources for supporting exploration beyond the moon is proposed in a White House Fact Sheet that accompanied the release of the Policy Directive. The costs for any proposed use (e.g. extracting oxygen from lunar rocks) must be estimated and compared with alternatives (e.g. bringing the oxygen from Earth.) The topic must be subject to economic analysis before any commitment to such a program is made. Twelve Americans have walked on the moon (15 more have flown around it) and some 70 robotic spacecraft have been there – we must carefully consider what we already have done there before planning new missions. The moon, as stated in the Policy Directive, shall only be “to prepare for and support future human exploration activities.” We cannot afford to get bogged down on the Moon as we have in Earth orbit the past three decades. While the United States and Russia have been to the Moon many times, it is a target of international interest. Currently: · The European Space Agency has a mission, SMART-1, on the way to the Moon · Japan is developing two lunar missions: Lunar A, which may launch in the next year, and SELENE, now scheduled for 2006. · India is developing a mission, Chadrayan-1, for a 2008 launch · There are reports from China they will conduct robotic lunar orbiter and landing missions in this decade, and perhaps that they have a 2020 human landing mission goal. International cooperation is supported in the Policy Directive, and there is a need to build international partnerships for the grand goal of humans to Mars. Working with international partners can help us greatly to lower the cost of realizing our objectives at the Moon and in achieving the required set of missions faster. The Planetary Society urges the United States and other space-faring nations to cooperate and coordinate their robotic lunar missions. This could pave the way for an international human crewed mission to the Moon and be a solid step in building the team for the Martian expeditions. Engineers can work out the details of interim technical milestones for a human mission to Mars. Various national and international studies have considered interim human destinations near Earth and at points where Sun and Earth gravity produce dynamical stability, or at asteroids, which provide interesting targets in their own right. These steps might also be investigated as interim milestones for human flight to Mars. The Planetary Society cofounder, Carl Sagan wrote, “There’s plenty of housework to be done here on Earth and our commitment to it must be steadfast. But we’re the kind of species that needs a frontier – for fundamental biological reasons. Every time humanity stretches itself and turns a new corner, it receives a jolt of productive vitality that can carry it for centuries. There is a new world next door. And we know how to get there.” Only at Mars will we begin to learn whether humankind is limited to a single planet; only at Mars will humans be able to investigate the questions of other life. These are the great human purposes for which we send humans to space. The lure of Mars is dramatically revealed by the enormous public interest and excitement that attended the landings of Mars rovers this past month and the presence of five robot emissaries from planet Earth now explorating that alien world. Imagine if those robots were us.